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Foot-In-Shoe by Michael Ketchek

(part of chapter 2)

Foot-In-Shoe traveled along the dirt road and passed thrugh village after village that looked so poor he did not even consider stopping to beg for food. Nightfall found him in a wooded area and he bedded down in a grove of pine trees near a slow flowing stream. He ate the last of several rice cakes that Big Mouth had sent him off with and drank water from the nearby creek.  Before drifting off to sleep he composed one verse:

summer night breeze

                                               pine boughs lazily

                                               brush the stars

In the morning Foot-In-Shoe was awoke by raucous sounds coming in the direction of the road. Cautiously he made his way towards the road. Hiding behind bushes he could see two men punching and kicking a yellow robed monk. “This is so wrong,” thought Foot-In-Shoe. He looked around and found a stick that would serve as a club. Then quickly he stripped himself of all his clothes and smeared his face and body with dirt. With club in one hand and a rock in the other he let out a blood curdling scream and rushed from his hiding place. The two men who were pummeling the fallen monk looked up and froze at the sight of Foot-In-Shoe racing full speed right at them screaming and waving his stick. Then Foot-In-Shoe threw his rock hitting one of them painfully on the shoulder. Suddenly they both emerged from their stunned condition and they took off running.  The monk struggled to a sitting position and watched Foot-In-Shoe jump and scream till his two assailants had disappeared from sight. Foot-In-Shoe panting heavily sat down next to the monk.

   “You chased away my attackers, madman,” said the astonished monk.

    “I’m not mad,” replied Foot-In-Shoe.

    “That’s what all madmen say,” said the monk.

    “I’m not mad,” repeated Foot-In-Shoe.

    “That’s what all madmen say,” said the monk again.

     Foot-In-Shoe sighed and said, “Oh monk, look beyond the surface and into the essence of things. Then he waded into the stream and washed off the dirt. Back on land he put on his clothes and retrieved his belongings and rejoined the monk by the creek bank.

   “ So tell me monk, why were those men beating you?”

   “They came to me saying they were desperate, hungry and I should give them all the alms I had collected. I told them I had no money but I had the secret for never needing money again. After I told them the secret they beat me.”

Foot-In-Shoe looked directly at the monk and asked, “So what is the secret for never needing money?”

      The monk hesitated then said, “Never want anything.”

       Foot-In-Shoe mumbled, “I should have let them keep on beating you.”